Hans C. Boas, Director :: PCL 5.556, 1 University Station S5490 :: Austin, TX 78712 :: 512-471-4566
Selected Annotated Bibliography
Todd B. Krause
There are few available editions of the Gothic corpus as a whole, the most
accessible sources being the reading excerpts contained in the grammars
listed in the next section. There are, however, two outstanding editions
of Gothic texts listed below. The first is unforunately long out of print,
and the second is reprinted periodically.
- Gerhard H. Balg, The First Germanic Bible. Milwaukee: self-published,
1891. This work contains the Gothic text of the Bible, as well as the
other main remains of the Gothic language. One of the few editions in
English, particularly amusing for employing a reformed spelling of Modern
English (e.g. tho for though). It contains a complete dictionary of
the language. An even more striking feature is a remarkably extensive
treatment of syntax, though more along the lines of standard grammars of
Latin and Greek (e.g. focusing on clauses of various types such as result
clauses and purpose clauses), rather than in step with modern notions of
syntax. In short an amazingly useful reference.
- Wilhelm Streitberg, Die gotische Bibel. Heidelberg: Carl
Winter Universitaetsbuchhandlung, 1960. Two volumes. Simply put, this
is the standard edition of the Gothic Bible by which all others are judged.
Streitberg put considerable effort into reconstructing the form of the
Greek Bible on which the Gothic translation was based, and the result
is set on pages facing the accompanying Gothic. The second volume is a
complete dictionary of the Gothic language, particularly interesting for
its labelling of verbs as perfective or imperfective as per Streitberg's
description of such terms in his Elementarbuch.
There are a number of grammars of the Gothic language. Most of them are
reference grammars and therefore not a user-friendly introduction to the
language, Bennett's book being a notable exception. In addition, few of
the grammars are in English.
- Wilhelm Braune, Gotische Grammatik: mit Lesestuecken und
Worterverzeichnis. Tuebingen: Niemeyer, 1973. One of the standard
references in German. Includes readings and a glossary.
- Wilhelm Streitberg, Gotisches Elementarbuch. Heidelberg:
Carl Winter Universitaetsbuchhandlung, 1910. Perhaps the single most
useful reference grammar on Gothic. It stands out among all others by
virtue of its lengthy treatment of syntax, given short shrift elsewhere.
Includes reading passages and a glossary. In German.
- Joseph Wright, Grammar of the Gothic Language. London: Oxford University
Press, 1954. A nice, clear reference grammar, with a number of readings
and glossaries. A thorough treatment of morphology, though some of the
analysis is a little dated. A few pages of syntax are added as an
afterthought. One of the few reference works available in English.
- Wolfgang Krause, Handbuch des Gotischen. Munich: Beck, 1968.
A reference grammar, with little attention given to matters of syntax. In
- William H. Bennett, An Introduction to the Gothic Language. New York:
Modern Language Association of America, 1980. This is an extremely
useful introduction and a welcome departure from all other books this
author has seen, they being mainly reference grammars with readings
added as an afterthought. Bennett's book is a pedagogical introduction,
though at times a little more terse than one would like. As nice feature
is that at the final sections of most of the chapters, taken together,
form a concise introduction to Germanic historical linguistics in general.
Includes readings for each chapter and a self-contained glossary. In
The text editions listed above, namely Balg's and Streitberg's, contain
full dictionaries of the corpus (Balg's into English, Streitberg's into
German). From the perspective of historical linguistics, the following
work stands out.
- Winfred P. Lehmann, A Gothic Etymological Dictionary. Leiden: E. J.
Brill, 1986. As noted in the work, this is based on the third edition of
the Vergleichendes Woerterbuch der Gotischen Sprache by Sigmund
Feist. In short, this is perhaps the single most useful work on the Gothic
language besides the texts themselves. In a sense a topical dictionary,
in that words etymologically related are generally listed under the same
head word. It can, however, be used as a companion dictionary to the
texts by employing the Gothic index near the back. Each head word is
given a short discussion citing scholarly literature which is collected
in the bibliography. Examples of etymologically related words from other
languages are cited, and the index contains lists of all words referenced
from languages Indo-European and not, grouped by language and family or
subfamily. In English.
The first source listed below is a book giving a general survey of
the older Germanic languages and is a suitable introduction for the
non-specialist. The articles that follow are scholarly works treating
specific matters of Gothic, Germanic, and Indo-European historical
- Orrin W. Robinson, Old English and its Closest Relatives. London:
Routledge, 1992. A truly fun and entertaining book to read, while at
the same time scholarly and informative. A rare gem. Each of the major
archaic Germanic languages is treated in a separate chapter, highlighting
the way in which each differs from basic common Germanic characteristics as
outlined in an early chapter. A short reading and accompanying glossary
(with translations into English at the end of the book) are given in each
chapter; when possible these are parallel versions of the Parable of the
Sower and the Seed, to afford easy comparison between languages. The
chapter on Gothic, as is to be expected in a work of this nature, is more
superficial than these lessons. It is nevertheless informative for gaining
perspective on how Gothic fits into the Germanic family. In English.
- Winfred P. Lehmann, "The Indo-European dh-Determinative in Germanic,"
Language Vol. 18, No. 2, Apr-Jun 1942, 125-132.
- Winfred P. Lehmann, "The Indo-European dh-Determinative as Germanic Preterite
Formant," Language Vol. 19, No. 1, Jan-Mar 1943, 19-26.
- Vyacheslav V. Ivanov, "Indo-European Syntactic Rules and Gothic Morphology,"
Indo-European Studies Vol. 1, 1999. The article is available for download
on the University of California Press website.
- Frederick Kortlandt, The Origin of the Goths, 2000. Available for
download on the author's web page.
The works listed below treat the history of the Gothic people. Two of the
works give broad overviews and interpretation of a vast amount of primary
and secondary literature treating more or less the entire course of
documented Gothic history. The work by Heather and Matthews, by contrast,
is more limited in timespan and unique in providing primary source material
- Peter Heather, The Goths. Cambridge, Mass: Blackwell, 1996. A
well-written study of the Goths, particularly useful for its attempt to
distinguish between different Gothic tribes in the period leading up to the
advent of the Visigoths and Ostrogoths. Contains enlightening dicussions
of the relation between archaeology and ethnicity. In English.
- Peter Heather and John Matthews, The Goths in the Fourth Century.
Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991. A singularly useful text,
being a rare resource for actual primary texts concerning the Goths in
English translation. Short and to the point, though with a broad range
of coverage from archaeology, history, and language.
- Herwig Wolfram, History of the Goths, translated from German by Thomas
J. Dunlap. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. The English
version of this German text is actually a wonderful read. The author
keeps the narrative flowing at a brisk pace, though pausing at times for
interesting asides and analyses. Though a history text, this generally
reads more like a novel, albeit with less character development.
Unfortunately the asides, which look both forward and backward in time,
can make following the sequence of events a little difficult at times.
This makes the book's use as a reference a little more limited.
The following work has become a standard on the topic of Crimean Gothic,
both providing the primary material and a useful summary of scholarship up
to the point of publication.
- MacDonald Stearns, Jr., Crimean Gothic: analysis and etymology of the corpus.
Saratoga, Calif: Anma Libri, 1978. A particularly thorough study of Crimean
Gothic. At times going against previous scholarly opinion, a generally
well-reasoned and solid account of the language and problems with its
interpretation. Extremely informative, containing Busbecq's letter in
facsimile, transcription, and translation, as well as a discussion of
pertinent ancilliary materials. In English.